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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapy Program Near Harvest Alabama

Harvest Alabama physical therapist working with female patient holding balance ballEarning a physical therapy degree near Harvest AL is a critical first step to starting a rewarding career in the health care industry. Physical therapists (PT) help people who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back mobility and function. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee receive a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate the ones you are thinking about to make certain they will furnish a quality education and comply with your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school just because it happens to be the nearest to your residence or it has cheapest tuition. There are other relevant qualifications that need to be evaluated besides location and cost. But before we cover what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Harvest Alabama physical therapist helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists practice in varying settings, including Harvest AL private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As earlier touched on, physical therapists help patients that are experiencing a lack of mobility and in many cases pain caused by injury or illness. After diagnosing a patient, they create a course of treatment to address the mobility issues and reduce or eradicate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. While the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Knee Replacement
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Licensed physical therapists practice in close partnerships with other Harvest AL health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, dentists and nurses. They can also manage several physical therapy assistants who work for them in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Something to take note of for anyone considering entering the physical therapy profession, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees

Harvest Alabama DPT working with man in pool

There are 3 physical therapist degree options offered for students to enroll in at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees focus on either training students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short descriptions of degrees that are available to prospective students in the Harvest AL area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or can be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Candidates must have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require 2 years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are developed as pre-physical therapist education to ready students to advance to the doctoral level. While they are not required to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an important preliminary step to becoming a PT. As with most bachelor's degrees, they generally require four years to complete and usually incorporate an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement in order to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). After earning the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to finish, making the total commitment 7 years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an intregal component in addition to the extensive classroom and lab instruction. Consequently the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer available in the USA. Some practicing physical therapists having a master's or even a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in prior to the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was instituted.

Physical Therapy Online Colleges

Harvest Alabama woman taking physical therapist classes onlineAlthough not as prevalent as the on campus options, there are some accredited online physical therapy programs available, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, internships and clinical lab work are incorporated with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Harvest AL residence. Online programs are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of cases more affordable. Tuition can be somewhat lower than similar on-campus alternatives, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, assuring a quality education. These advantages can make the online option the right choice for those students that are motivated enough to learn at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapy Schools

By now you most likely have made a decision regarding a few of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you would like to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are numerous PT colleges within the Harvest AL area and throughout Alabama, you'll have to explore other qualifications as well so as to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you need to be sure that you enroll in the school that is best for you. That's why we have compiled a list of critical questions that you must ask the physical therapist colleges you are considering. Ask each of the potential colleges these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapy School Accredited?  Find out if the schools you are reviewing have earned accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously mentioned, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online college, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapist school and program you select are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, check that the accreditation is from a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be required for state licensing as well as for getting student loans or financial assistance.

What is the College's Reputation? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy profession. There are multiple ways you can research a PT program's reputation, starting with asking for references from employers that they refer their students to. You can also check online rating services and reviews and ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Call a few Harvest AL physical therapy clinics or other medical care facilities that you may be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any advice about your college options. It might also be prudent to check with the Alabama Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you need to know about each of the physical therapy colleges you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might mean that students left due to dissatisfaction with the program, the instructors, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the help of the college's job placement program, particularly in the Harvest AL area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care community is good or perhaps excellent. It also verifies that the program has a broad network of contacts to help students obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Does the Program Support Licensing Requirements? It's essential that the school you enroll in provides both exceptional training and a course of study that satisfies the licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working. In each state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) as well as a degree from an accredited physical therapist program. While licensing requirements vary state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional exams.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the physical therapist colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Harvest AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to get hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Harvest health care community and assist with job placement after licensing.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the physical therapist college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Harvest AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Provided? Most DPT colleges supply some type of financial aid to their prospective students. Ask if the colleges you are considering have a financial aid office and find out what kind of assistance is available. At a minimum they should help in obtaining a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapy colleges offer scholarships, while others provide work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, learn what financial aid may be available.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the physical therapy school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Harvest AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Harvest Physical Therapist Colleges

Choose the Right Harvest Physical Therapy School

Choosing the ideal physical therapist college is an important initial decision you must make to start a fulfilling career in the healthcare profession. As we have addressed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and college you choose should both have outstanding reputations and accreditation. But there are other relevant questions that you should ask concerning your school of choice as well. As you begin your search for a physical therapist program keep in mind that a number of factors will guide you toward your final decision. You may want to go to different colleges to view their facilities and speak with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this college help me reach my goal of becoming a licensed practicing physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary education and training, you can achieve your dream of becoming a practicing physical therapist in Harvest Alabama.


 

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